Ribeiro, who turns 25 in April, has been linked with a move to Old Trafford for some time, and has been tipped to provide the creative spark that United have been lacking at times this season. Starlet Adnan Januzaj has, at times, been the most creative force under David Moyes, and United need other players to step up and take some of the burden off the 18 year old's shoulders.
Winger Nani could be heading back to Sporting Lisbon in a loan deal, whilst Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia have both been inconsistent over the past 18 months and could find themselves heading out of Old Trafford in the near future. A handful of attacking players have been linked with a move to United, including Nicolas Gaitan, Lucas Moura and Arda Turan, but a move for Ribeiro looks far more likely – and cheaper to complete – right now.
Their €10m (£8.3m) bid for the 24 year old was rejected, and his agent Robson Ferreira announced that his client would like to help his side in the Copa Libertadores this season.
“We've taken a bid of €10m for Everton Ribeiro to Cruzeiro,” Ferreira said. “The interested club is kept secret so as to not disturb or disrupt negotiations, after all they are in the middle of their season.
“We took the proposal to Cruzeiro, we talked and arranged a new meeting for the next few days. The club want him to stay and the player also wants to help Cruzeiro in the Libertadores. We are trying to unite all interests.”
However, the lure of playing for a club as big as Manchester United may be too much to turn down – particularly as he could become a key part of the team at an early stage, such are their struggles of late. Should he eventually make the move to the North West, Ribeiro will be compared against two current United players – Marouane Fellaini and Shinji Kagawa.
Fellaini was brought in by his former Everton boss Moyes on transfer deadline day for £27.5m, and was expected to be the solution to United's midfield woes. The Belgian has failed to live up to his price tag though, and there are now question marks over Moyes' proficiency in the transfer market. If the Scot believes that Ribeiro is a player that can improve the United team, he will be under intense scrutiny to perform better than Fellaini – even with the transition from South American to English football often proving to be difficult for some players.
Meanwhile, Ribeiro is an attacking midfield player who can also play out wide – roles which Kagawa plays for the team. The Japanese international has become a firm fan favourite at Old Trafford since his 2012 move from Borussia Dortmund, but has only shown flashes of brilliance as he looks to prove that he was worth £17m. Kagawa has had problems with staying healthy as well as the physical nature of the Premier League, and with rumours linking the 24 year old with a move back to Dortmund, the potential arrival of Ribeiro could throw his future into more doubt.
Should the deal for Ribeiro be completed this month, or even in the summer, United fans need to give the Brazilian time to adjust to English football, as many players have struggled to make the transition from South America – namely Diego Forlan and Juan Pablo Angel, but Ribeiro has the technical ability to be a success in England - if he can handle the physicality. Can he be more of a success for United than Fellaini and Kagawa though?
image: © Marcel Sigg